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Māra Zālīte was born on February 18, 1952 in Krasnoyarsk, in a family, which was politically repressed by a soviet regime. In 1956 her family returned to Latvia. In 1975 she graduated from the Faculty of Philology of the University of Latvia. M. Zālīte has worked as a technical assistant at the Writers’ Union of Latvia, the leader of the Young Writers’ Studio, a poetry consultant at the magazine Liesma and the editor in chief of the literary magazine Karogs. During last years she works at AKKA/LAA (a copyright agency). She is the president of Latvian Authors’ Association.

 

During the seventies the basic motives of Māra Zālīte’s poetry were the problems of young people, reflection of the tendencies of nihilism and alienation, quest for the meaning of life. In the eighties her poetry became more philosophic, emotionally impressive and full of tragic sense. Alongside with poetry, Māra Zālīte turned to drama – she has written several plays, combining actual and eternal motives, history and modern times, everyday and symbolic planes.

 

Māra Zālīte has written also librettos for rock operas. The rock opera of 1988, Lāčplēsis, was not only a fact of popular music, but also an event of political significance. The topics of history and mythology, reflected in the rock opera, had a new meaning in the time when the USSR was collapsing and there was a new hope for Latvia to break free from occupation.

 

The creative style of Māra Zālīte is precise, emotionally impressive and close to the imagery of folklore.

 

Most significant works:

 

Poetry: Yesterday in the Green Grass (1977), Maybe Tomorrow (1979), No Place for a Word (1985), The Sky, the Sky (1988), Surroundings (1997). Poetry for children: Strength of Nine Boys (1988). Selections of poetry: Are You Still Holding On? (1992), Poetry (2003).

 

Plays: Full Māra’s Room (staged in 1983), Court (staged in 1984), The Live Water (staged in 1987), Margaret (staged in 2001), Land Tax (staged in 2003)

 

Librettos for rock operas: Lāčplēsis (1988), composer Zigmars Liepiņš, Kaupēn, My Dear (1998), The Birds’ Opera (2000), Why, in the name of God…or Chronicle of Henricus (2000), composer Jānis Lūsēns; and others.

 

Collections of essays: Sown in Belief and At the Pedestal of the Monument of Freedom (Sydney, 1990).

 

Texts for musicals: Wild Swans (premiere in 1995; composer Raimonds Pauls).

 

Song lyrics selection Healing (1996) and others.

 

Māra Zālīte is a laureate of various literary awards. Among them is the prestigious Prize of J. G. Herder (received in 1993), awarded by the Toepfer Foundation in Germany.

 

Works by Māra Zālīte are translated in German, Russian, English, Estonian, Swedish and other languages.

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